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Building AI Capacity in Nonprofits: Challenges and Opportunities

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a rapidly developing technology, and it can be difficult to know how or when to ethically implement AI within your nonprofit organization. While AI is still a burgeoning field that comes with certain concerns, there are ways that your nonprofit can harness AI to maximize impact, even with limited resources. Responsible AI use isn’t just possible; with lower barriers to entry than ever before, AI is an effective way to save your organization time, money, and energy. 


How to Scale AI Capacity at Nonprofit Organizations

AI already plays a role in your nonprofit’s operations. If you use spellcheck or post on social media, you are engaging with artificial intelligence. However, the most effective AI use will involve increasing the AI capacity at your nonprofit.


  • Identify Organizational Pain Points

The first step to improve AI capacity at nonprofits is to identify the problems you would like AI to solve. Where are the inefficiencies in your current processes? Do you currently pay employees to do administrative tasks that take them away from the more important goals of their position? What is slowing you down and causing a bottleneck? These cases are prime candidates for AI integration. 


  • Research AI Tools

Once you’ve identified your pain points, consider the AI tools that will solve those problems. If you are looking to leverage AI for easier fundraising, PayBee, a software designed specifically for nonprofit fundraising, may be the solution. If your volunteer manager can’t devote time to volunteers because they have been handling the nonprofit’s social media accounts, try Buffer. AI vendors and platforms like Google’s AI for Social Good can help you discover the tools that are right for your organization.


  • Run a Pilot Program

As you build your nonprofit’s AI capacity, you will want to test your chosen tools in a controlled experiment. Limit the scope and length of the trial, and afterward, get detailed feedback from staff and stakeholders. If the pilot is a success, you can begin implementing the AI tools on a larger scale. 


  • Conduct Training

In order for your staff to truly benefit from AI, they will have to understand how to use it. Train your team (including volunteers) on AI usage, either using in-house or third-party resources, and consider compiling an AI handbook with best practices and organizational policies. Since AI is a rapidly developing technology, you will likely have to revisit AI training periodically.


  • Prepare for Job Redesign 

Using AI will free up extra time for your staff members, allowing them to focus their energies on other tasks. Update job descriptions accordingly and guide team members as they redefine their workflow. 


  • Ensure Security

Nonprofits handle a lot of sensitive information, and if you are going to be using AI to manage that data, you should be careful about what you share. For example, generative AI like Chat GPT uses any input to inform its own algorithm, so you should never add sensitive data to a prompt. Make sure that any AI tools you use comply with your data protection regulations.


  • Measure Impact

The goal of scaling AI capacity at nonprofits is to improve efficiency, and you want to make sure that you are actually improving your organizational processes. Keep tabs on relevant metrics to see whether AI tools are worth the cost of implementation and identify any opportunities for optimization. 


Ethical AI Implementation

While new technology is exciting, AI has prompted some apprehension. In science fiction, AI becomes so powerful that it overtakes humans. However, the most pressing and realistic concerns revolve around how AI models are trained and implemented. Generative AI has come under fire for using artists’ work without consent or compensation, and many workers are concerned that their jobs may be replaced by AI.


As a nonprofit trying to make a positive impact on the world, ethical AI adoption is critical to your mission, and it should be at the forefront of your strategy to build AI capacity at your nonprofit.


  • Stay human-centered. Make sure all AI tools are supervised by humans, and use AI to enhance jobs rather than replace them. Don’t just copy generative AI products; use them as a jumping off point for more personalized content. Not only will the material be more compelling, but you will avoid the risk of plagiarism.
  • Fact check everything. Generative AI is trained to produce the most likely result—not the most correct one. It often fabricates information, pulls from unreliable data, or replicates grammar or spelling mistakes from its sources. Thoroughly edit and fact check AI-generated content. 
  • Mitigate bias. Since AI is trained on other sources, it will reflect those source’s biases. The internet is filled with harmful opinions and misinformation, and AI tools may unintentionally amplify these views or generate insensitive content. Make sure that your AI use reflects your organization’s values.


Maximize Impact with VolunteerHub

AI is not the only tool that can optimize your nonprofit’s operations. VolunteerHub is an industry-leading software that addresses all of your volunteer management needs in one, intuitive platform.


VolunteerHub saves your organization time, money, and effort with resources for volunteer recruitment, scheduling, reporting, recognition, and communication. Our people-first approach is proven to result in a simpler and more enjoyable volunteer experience, and our knowledgeable team will guide you through every step of the implementation process for maximum efficiency.


The post Building AI Capacity in Nonprofits: Challenges and Opportunities appeared first on Nonprofit Hub.

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